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Water World

To do nothing may be a fantasy in our part of the world, but at Soneva Gili the exercise has been honed into a fine art. Whether it is the architecture of the villa, staff uniform, an 'over-the-water deck' or bicycle as the mode of transport, everything is tuned towards doing nothing, and if one insists, to do languorously.

Of course if you want to, you can do a bit of windsurfing, diving, water-skiing, snorkelling, canoeing, fishing and island hopping. There are guests who play table tennis, tennis, badminton, boccia and volleyball. And, if you are that kind of person you can even borrow VCDs and watch some great movies. These options exist because the resort believes each guest should be catered to but the best thing to do there is to do nothing.

I had my priorities clear. I wanted to master the art of doing nothing. And nature had never perfected a better location. Much of my holiday was spent on the water deck (attached to my villa) sipping beer as silver clouds formed interesting patches on the clear equatorial sky. The ocean beneath was transparent and smooth. The only sound is the sound of the ocean, both mesmerising and hypnotic -- the kind of sound that only an ocean can make! My villa was located about 300 metres within the ocean. Every once in a while, I would go down for a languid swim. The coral reefs were about 500 metres away, but right below my villa there were a few stray corals growing. Many colourful fishes had made the patch their home.

(Above) The bathroom in a water villa;
(Below) Lounge
(Above) View from a villa;
(Below) Fitness facilities

What is most memorable to me about my sojourn is the fishing. The resort arranges a fishing trip and sunrise breakfast for a few dollars more. The breakfast is grand, even though I was late for the sunrise. Fishing was unbelievable. The fishes which abound in the region are the Waahu, Job Fish and Trout. Unless you are very unlucky nobody comes back empty-handed. We did what is called trolley fishing (also known as big game fishing).

First, the base of the fishing rod was attached to the dhoni (boat), we then threw the line into the water and then forgot about it. The whole point of exercise is that when a fish bites, pressure is exerted and the rod sags; that is how you come to know. If a Waahu bites, you have to lift the rod and place its base on your left thigh for support. With the left hand you hold the rod and with the right you furiously reel the line back. The entire weight of the rod and the weight of the struggle of the fish is felt on your left hand and thigh. It is painful, sweaty, hot and fun.

One Waahu did bite our line. It then kept pace with the dhoni and sometimes abruptly jerked, just to try his luck. Finally when I lifted it off the water, boy, it struggled, and how it struggled. We got it in the end. The spoils of the day: three Tuna, one Job Fish and one Waahu weighing about three kilograms and about 16 inches long. We then returned to the villa.

In the night, since Maldives is close to the equator, the sky almost falls in a straight line. Since you are in the middle of an ocean, the sky can't be clearer. Fortunately for me, the moon was just a day beyond full and resplendent in her glory. The air-conditioned master bedroom exists, but if you are my kind of person you wouldn't even think about it. You would call the Guest Relations and ask them to set up bed in the open-air roof of the villa. If the complimentary French wine has already been consumed, make sure you order another bottle for the night! Maybe half-an-hour later, if you had to choose between Soneva Gili and heaven, chances are you would opt for the former.

Villa completely surrounded by water

Your Space Within the Sea

Much as we may like to call Kerala the God's own country or Goa as the Eden itself, they are way too insignificant to even be compared to Maldives. The first thing that strikes you about Maldives is the outstanding blue of the overhead sky and the turquoise blue of the waters beneath. Both stretch endlessly. The sheer magnificence of nature hits you head on. Soneva Gili is so located as to get the best of everything Maldives. Situated almost entirely on water, the resort has been set up in Lankanfushi, one of the largest lagoons in Maldives. Four jetties stretch out from the island and along each one water villas are placed. Each villa is so positioned that there is complete privacy. And in the entire island, only 44 villas have been constructed so that each guest can be given personal attention and individual service. It is not uncommon for the resort staff to know after just one visit to the bar that you are more of whiskey man than a wine lover, and your preference is for Scotch and not rye whiskey.
The villa itself is very spacious with 110 square metres and tastefully furnished on raw wood. The wood, glass and colour combination of the interiors make them throb with life. Set on the backdrop of the sky and the water, it stops becoming a thing of beauty and moves on to become an experience.
A week's stay at Soneva Gili Resort and Spa including lodging, boarding and nothing else costs US $ 3241 for a couple, and that's when tariffs are at the lowest. During peak season it can go as high as US $ 7266. Almost all round the year it is packed to capacity.
Air Seychelles operates direct flights from Mumbai to Male.

For reservations contact:
Manager-Sales & Marketing
Six Senses Hotels, Resorts & Spas
86-87, Atlanta, Nariman Point,
Mumbai-400 021.
Tel : (009122) 2308787 Fax: (009122)2308780
email: shridhar@six-senses.com website : www.six-senses.com